Saudi Arabia Bans Import of V for Vendetta Masks

Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Naif has ordered to confiscate and ban the importation of the V for Vendetta/Guy Fawkes masks, al-Madina daily reported on Thursday. The Ministry of Commerce will confiscate the mask from stores across the country and importers have been told to stop bringing the mask to the Saudi market.

The mask has come to represent a universal symbol of protest, and it has been worn by protesters in the Middle East as well as the Occupy movement. In November 2012, the UAE declared the mask illegal and have warned against people wearing them. Earlier this year Bahrain announced that anyone caught importing the mask faces arrest, according to the Independent.

The Saudi Interior Minister’s order comes few days after the Ministry of Islamic Affairs warned young people against wearing the mask. “The Ministry noted that this mask is a symbol of rebels and revenge, and is being promoted on the internet,” al-Madina reported earlier this week. The Ministry told mosque imams and parents to warn against “these foreign things to our conservative society” because “they could be used to incite the youth to destabilize security and spread chaos…”

The mask is a stylized interpretation of Guy Fawkes, a member of a group of subversives who took part in an attempt to assassinate King James I in a failed 1605 plot that has become known as the “Gunpowder Plot.” It first became popular after the release of the 2005 film V For Vendetta, which was inspired by a graphic novel illustrated by David Lloyd.

Lloyd told the BBC News Magazine in October 2011 that “The Guy Fawkes mask has now become a common brand and a convenient placard to use in protest against tyranny.”

Photo courtesy of Benoit Perrot via Flickr